Continuous learning, staying active, meeting new people of all ages and establishing a social network that keeps us connected is important at any age.
Continuous learning, staying active, meeting new people of all ages and establishing a social network that keeps us connected is important at any age. iStock

Age is just a number, so make it count

Today is the oldest I've ever been and the youngest I'll ever be again.

This week I turn another year older. I'm not entering a new decade so it's not a big birthday as such, yet now I seem to be in the elderly bracket - seriously? That's like being described as middle-aged in your 40s.

Every birthday is significant in its own way - a reason to celebrate life in general and an opportunity to reflect on the year gone. I don't know about you, but my external appearance is not an accurate reflection of how old I feel on the inside and I will probably feel forever in my thirties, a time when I was independent, felt carefree, comfortable in my own skin and excited for future possibilities.

When I look back over my life, there are certain ages that were memorable and others that have largely gone unrecalled. Turning into a teen, then 18, then 21, then 30, 40 and 50 are memorable because they felt like, and were celebrated, as milestones. But the years in between seem to have passed in a rapid blur unless there was a significant event that served as reminder of a certain year.

What I have realised in retrospect is that somewhere along the line my natural joie de vivre diminished. I became way too serious and responsible and temporarily lost my sense of humour and spark. I don't recall any particular day or event that caused it, it was more likely to have been a combination of things.

But I do recognise that time and events have changed me, as they do all of us and I'm now rediscovering joy again in small things and random moments. I'm also finding that age has indeed brought some wisdom, finally.

While age is unimportant in the scale of things, every birthday indicates a passage of time, with each year passing more and more quickly, whether because of the speed of modern life or as a percentage of our overall time on the planet. Whatever the reason, every day we are here is a gift and it's important to make the most of it as no one knows what tomorrow brings.

So even though we may judge ourselves and feel judged by others for our age at times, particularly when it comes to travel insurance, health care and driving licence renewal, it is good to remind ourselves that age does not have to be barrier or a limitation.

We can continue to feel young at heart and young of mind at any age and continuous learning, staying active, meeting new people of all ages and establishing a social network that keeps us connected and supports and nourishes us will contribute to that. In truth they are important at every stage of life. How old do you feel today?

Rowena Hardy is a facilitator and coach at mindsaligned.com.au